december 23, 2015
We are honored to announce the creation of The Tali Fund. It is a 501(c)(3) family foundation dedicated to supporting the ongoing work of Talia Faith Agler. We invite you to visit the Tali Fund website and consider making a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you!
To give you an idea what the fund has been supporting recently, here is a project report:
december 1, 2015
Thank you for bringing us this far ……….
By Lillian Mang’ong’o – Community Outreach Officer
Girls at TAGS Shelter
Greetings from Talia Agler Girls Shelter (TAGS) in Nairobi, Kenya.
In this report we wish to highlight our achievements since we started our shelter program for trafficked and abused girls in January 2012. You have walked the journey with us and deserve to know how we are doing So far.Overall, we have assisted 279 girls through our 4R model of Reach, Rescue, Rehabilitate and Reintegrate. All the rescued girls received basic needs, shelter, medical screening, counseling, Reproductive Health and Life skills training. At reintegration, young girls are returned to school while the older girls benefit from vocational skills training and job placement. We ensure that every girl is supported in a holistic manner so that they can recover from their traumatic experiences and become useful members of the society. So far;
a) 17 girls have been provided with formal education; 14 in primary school and 7 in High school.
b) 7 girls have sat for their national examinations – 2 “O” Levels and 5 primary school
c) 1 girl has joined a government sponsored tertiary institution and is pursuing a course in accounting.
d) 21 girls have joined vocational skills training and 4 have been given job placements.
e) 22 Unaccompanied minors have been referred to other agencies for further interventions.
f) 37 young mothers have been assisted so far, of these 19 girls were rescued while expectant while 18 had babies at the time of rescue.
g) 245 girls have been reintegrated/reunited with their families and linked with service providers in their home area for continuous monitoring and support.As we come to the end of 2015 we take this opportunity to thank you most sincerely for the support that you have accorded us over the years. Because of your support we have been able to provide services to girls in need and continue to do so.Shall we close the year by meeting our target? we still have $37,462 to go before we can meet our target in donations. This holiday season please help us to reach that target. Spread the word to your friends and loved ones so that they too can join us in making a difference. It is because of your support that we are able to continue with the work that we do. Thank you very much for all that you do to keep us going!
You can make contributions to the TAGS online directly through the Tali Fund. Many thanks for the ongoing support that has such a great impact on the lives of so many young girls.
And be sure to see the entry below on our recent trip to Nairobi if you have not already.
With blessing to all,
november 30, 2015
We returned to Nairobi, Kenya to visit our friends at the Talia Agler Girls Shelter last month. It was another memorable visit. The Shelter has moved, grown and strengthened its program since we were there last in 2013. Thirty girls are currently in residence–plus five babies. All have been trafficked, abused or otherwise exploited. The Shelter (known by its initials “TAGS”) is providing them safety along with the opportunity for growth, education and ultimately, reintegration into society. It is an inspiring and successful, though still fledgling, institution.
We (me, Mindy, my brother David and our friend Dr. Bernard Ginsberg, MD) spent a week with the girls of TAGS and the students of the Centre for Domestic Training and Development (CDTD). Both CDTD and TAGS were founded by Edith Murogo, who coordinated our visit. Edith’s efforts enable some of society’s weakest members to protect themselves and defend their dignity through education, vocational training, emotional support and counseling. The lives that the CDTD and TAGS reach are rescued from poverty, degradation and worse. It was most heartening to see it all.
Tali worked at the CDTD during her semester abroad in 2006 and it has grown significantly since she taught there. It now occupies a separate facility in the Giturai district outlying Nairobi. The TAGS opened in early January 2012 and was named for Talia after her passing later that same month. We know she would be proud of the work being done in her name.
Pictures (and videos!) being worth thousands of words, here are a few to give you a sense of what is going on there today. (Click on any photo to embiggen.)
We arrived with eight suitcases filled with shopping items for the TAGS girls. (The airlines allow two checked bags per person so that’s the math.) It was mainly a haul of clothing and school supplies from discount stores. As far as the girls were concerned, it might as well have been precious jewels. (Bernie is at left, Mindy at bottom and Edith at right center in blue jacket.)
Here is a scene from the CDTD. I spent several hours teaching the staff (on working as a team–something I have experience with from the congregational rabbinate) and the students. We later put everyone together and asked the students to address the question, “How will I be able to stay on the right path and avoid the wrong one when I leave here?”Since many of them come from world class African slums, these are no small questions. This photo gives some sense of how intently focused they were. Sharing and comments followed and then… unexpected expressions of gratitude. Each group wanted me to sit with them for a picture (e.g. below). The simple fact that people on the outside care enough to come and give of themselves is appreciated beyond words.
At the CDTD students can study subjects ranging from food preparation to hairdressing to computers to sewing to how to run a household. I know nothing about any of those but fortunately they were grateful for what I was able to share about making it through life.
Back at TAGS, here is Daktari (that’s KiSwahili for Doctor) Bernard Ginsberg MD, being assisted by Nurse Hilda and teacher Julia. Together they were able to give an elevated level of medical treatment to the girls. In addition, Daktari Ginsberg assisted with Nurse Hilda’s training and donated equipment and supplies to help her better meet the needs of her patients.
Here is Mindy teaching a lesson on assertiveness, self-esteem, and how to change self-defeating thoughts. This was the group of younger girls, but when all thirty TAGS girls are present for academics in what is essentially a one room schoolhouse, most Americans would be amazed at the extraordinary level of attentiveness and decorum.
Five babies and their mothers are currently in residence at TAGS. They are safe and cared for–which they would not be on the outside. Here Mindy and Bernie lend a hand.
At TAGS they not only raise chickens for eggs but keep two milk cows and a thriving vegetable garden. It helps everyone stay well nourished and enables TAGS be a bit more self-sustaining.
Hey, where’d you get those snazzy after-school uniforms? From the friends of TAGS of course! Thank you to all who contributed to help make it so! (And be sure to click on the video channel so you can see and hear us sing!) Seriously, if you miss this, you won’t get the truly spectacular spirit of the girls and the work being done at the Shelter.
We were gifted with genuine Maasai blankets by Edith’s sisters, who shared a meal with us at her home. I was assured this did not mean we are now genuine Masai warriors.
It’s all done except for the polishing. Sculptor Kevin Odour was delayed in its completion due to a commission for a major artwork commemorating the struggle for Kenyan independence that now graces Nairobi’s central park. We are honored that such a renowned and talented artist and craftsman contributed his talents to help memorialize Talia. The finished bust will stand on the grounds of the Shelter.
This is a current snapshot of Tali’s ongoing legacy and lifesaving work. (Scroll down to see earlier entries or click the panel on the lower right to “follow” this blog so you won’t miss future updates.)
Given the difference between the African and Western economies, even small gifts go a very long way.
Small or large, let me invite you to become a sustaining TAGS partner.According to Edith, just 180 donors giving $18 per month will keep the roof over the head and the floor under the feet of all of the TAGS residents for one year. How about it? That’s not much for most of us. It will mean everything to them.
Larger donations are welcome too of course. December is the time when many of us make significant end of year contributions. If you think you might like to make one, let me know via email@example.com. We can also arrange a personal communication with Edith and the students and will do our best to answer any questions you may have.
Rarely has transforming and saving lives been easier (for us–it’s hard work over there.) In Tali’s memory, we thank you.
september 29, 2015
Here is the text of the talk I gave at GW Hospital in Washington referenced below. NBC Channel 4 in Washington also did a story on Tali’s lung recipient Brandy Swann. You can click here to see it. (Correction: she was 26, not 23 when she died.)
september 24, 2015
This is going to be an eventful fall for Talia and her legacies.
It begins in Washington this weekend where I’ve been invited speak at a dedication ceremony at the George Washington University Hospital in honor and in memory of organ donors and their families. It is sure to be an emotional visit as this is the hospital where Tali died.
In addition, the women who received her heart and lung, Martha Lefebvre (whom we have met previously) and Brandy Swann (whom we have not) will be there as well. Thankfully there will be a lot of support from Tali’s extended family and friends as well. I’ll follow up and let you know how it goes.
Here is the program and here is the slide they will use when Tali’s name is called.You may remember her namesake, Talia, born at the Talia Agler Girls Shelter in Nairobi in July 2013, whose picture is in the top row center.
Much more to come, I promise.
april 9, 2015
Tali would have been 30 years old today. In her memory, smile, show someone love, remember how special she was and think about doing one more thing to help repair the world.
Here is a recent report from Edith Murogo, founder and director of the Talia Agler Girls Shelter (TAGS) in Kenya, which continues to rescue and rehabilitate, in no small part due to the support of so many people who loved Talia and honor her memory.
Greetings from Nairobi!
Last year at a time like this i wrote a small report appealing for support for 2 of our girls who were sitting for their final examinations at both the primary and secondary school levels. In Kenya, the final primary school examination is known as Kenya Certificate of Primary Examinations (KCPE) and comes after 8 years of schooling. One must pass this test in order to proceed to the next level which is: Secondary school. The secondary school final examination is the “O” Levels which comes after KCPE i.e after 4 years of schooling and is the examination that enables one to join the University (undergraduate) or tertiary learning institutions in Kenya. We presented 2 candidates in 2014, one for each level. This was the first time that we were presenting candidates for national examinations.
Mary (not her real name) is a 17 year old girl from Ethiopia who was rescued from trafficking. She had been trafficked to Kenya for purposes of child labor, to work as a househelp. As an unhappy child, living with both her father and step-mother back in Ethiopia, she became an easy target to some traffickers who promised her a better life in Kenya, where she would access education. After being out of the school system for approximately 4 years, Mary was able to return to school and work hard. We are proud that she managed to do us proud having scored as follows:
English – A, Kiswahili National Language – B, Mathematics – A-, Science 72B, Social Science and Religion – B
Ann (not her real name) is a girl who had been working as a domestic worker before returning to school to complete her secondary school education under the sponsorship of TAGS. When Ann dropped out of school due to an early pregnancy, her father chased her away from home and never wanted her to go back. Now that she has passed her examinations, her father has welcomed her back home and is very proud of her. She has scored as follows:
English-B, Kiswahili-B, Mathematics-C+, Biology-C, Chemistry-C, Geography-C-, Christian Religious Education-B
With this performance, our girls both qualify to proceed to the next levels of their education.
We are most grateful for all that you have done. We could not have achieved this success without your support, as it has taken a lot of resources and goodwill from all of you. Our investment in education is paying off, thanks to you! Let us continue supporting girls to return to school by giving them another chance…….
Won’t you allow me to close with these words from Ann? “I am very grateful to Edith and the entire team working at the Talia Agler Girls Shelter. I also want to thank all our donors for supporting us to be in school. The program has given me a second chance to go back to school and achieve my dream of joining the university”
For those who have asked, none of our friends in Kenya were harmed in the recent terror attack which took place quite some distance from Nairobi. Once again, in what can be a dark world, it is a blessing to be able to kindle at least some light.
Thank you–and Happy Birthday Talia.
january 22, 2015
Talia’s third yahrzeit, 3 Shevat by the Hebrew calendar, begins this evening. Yesterday, the Mitzvah Lunch Club in Boca Raton, FL, USA had a Skype visit with Edith Murogo, Founder and Director of TAGS in Kenya. They raised over $1100 to support the work being done there. This is an enormously impactful sum in Africa.
If you’d like to set up a “lunch club” group in your community–which can support many worthy causes–let me know and I will put you in touch with Marcy Barrick, the powerhouse who made it happen.
May we all remain inspired to do work that is blessed.